Colombia’s agricultural minister Francisco Estupiñan will not be resigning over ongoing unrest among farmers, his spokesman said on Thursday.
In an interview with Colombia Reports, Jairo Corredor, the press officer for the agricultural ministry said that “none of the rumors concerning the departure of Francisco Estupiñan are true – they are merely speculation.”
He continued by saying that “the strikes are not the sole responsibility of the agricultural ministry, nor are the only strikers agricultural. There are strikes occurring in multiple labor sectors that are controlled by multiple ministries such as miners, truck drivers, health workers and teachers.”
“The issues concern defense, public order and general labor – not just the agricultural section – and efforts to fix these problems are being headed by the ministry of the interior in conjunction with others, such as the ministry of agriculture.”
This announcement comes after senators called for Estupiñan to step down due to “poor management and handling” of the agricultural strikes that led to disruption and road blocks.
Colombian media reported that Liberal Party senator Guillermo Garcia Realpe was a particularly vocal critic of the minister’s handling of the strike.
While senator Realpe did concede that some of the fault lay with the government as a whole, he told assembled newspapers that “it takes qualified individuals for the job and I would recommend that the president should make changes in the agricultural ministry.”
Estupiñan had been glad to announce via twitter on Tuesday that “the strikes had not disrupted food supplies within Colombia” and reported minimal damage to the agricultural sector by the strikes.
— Min. de Agricultura (@MinAgricultura) August 20, 2013
Despite the mounting pressure, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santo announced on Tuesday that the farmer’s strikes were not on the scale that government figures had initially estimated.
With this in mind it is perhaps reasonable to predict that Estupiñan will not be forced to resign from his post after all as responsibility and handling of the strikes will be distributed among the different ministries affected.
- Por mal manejo al paro agrario piden la salida del Ministro de Agricultura (Radio Santa Fe)
- Piden la renuncia del Ministro de Agricultura (Vanguardia)
- Interview with Jairo Corredor, agricultural ministry spokesperson